June 11, 2009

Updated: Test Riding The Bike Friday Pocket Sport

Bike Friday Pocket Sport model, on the bike path in Eugene.

Bike Friday Pocket Sport model, on the bike path in Eugene.

Yesterday, I made a decision to tackle the Impending Three Week Dilema head on. We are heading out with our family for a three week, cross-country road trip, hitting a ton of states from Oregon to Georgia and back. I’ve been dreading the three weeks off without any riding, and had just resigned myself to losing the time, as we really didn’t have a ton of room for me to bring a bunch of bike gear on the trip. However, over the past few weeks, my wife has been saying that she really wanted for me to figure a way to get some riding in, and since she was twisting my arm so much…I finally relented.

I made the decision to look into folding bikes. You can take a decent sized bike, fold it up to the size of a suitcase, and stuff it into the back of a rig…so I’ve heard. After looking at many a brand and model, I decided to check out the bikes offered up by the locals…Bike Friday. Although BF sells through shops around the area, and does sales over the phone or online, you can also just walk into their Eugene store, chat with the sales folks, and actually ride different models. Fortunately for me, they had the model I was looking at, the Pocket Sport, in my size, just waiting for me to check it out.

pocket_sport

The Pocket Sport fit’s somewhere between the Pocket Rocket, a full-on folding road bike, and the New World Tourist, a folding touring duty bike. In fact, the Pocket Sport uses the same frame as the NWT, with some different components. The biggest downsides to the Sport model compared to the Rocket Pro model (at least for me) are bar end shifters compared to normal brifters, wider tires than normal road tires, z-brakes, and a gearing ratio that is more set up for touring/climbing than faster riding.

Given the fact that this is purely a travel bike for me, and I will probably only get an hour or two, here and there (I’m hoping for a ride every other day,) I figured I could live with this in-between style bike for the 3 weeks we’ll be on the road. Dave and Mark at Bike Friday, took the measurements I brought from my road bike, adjusted the Sport accordingly, re-adjusted the saddle height after I spun around the parking lot for a minute, and sent me out on a ride where I put it through the paces for about 45 minutes.

I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was really surprised. The bike was much more stable than I imagined that long steering post would allow, and the bike accelerated nicely. The tires roll at 100psi, so they actually felt very much like the tires I normally ride, and not at all like a cruiser. Within a few minutes I was sold, but went ahead and put some miles in so I could get a feel for it. Even just in tennis shoes and cargo shorts, the bike was really nice to ride, and I knew it’d be perfect for the trip.

On the way back I stepped up the pace a little and found that with the current gearing, it would not be able to replace any of my bikes for group rides when I quickly got to the top gear without trying to hard. However, for getting out and spinning my legs on vacation for an hour or two before everyone wakes up…it’ll be perfect.

Keep watching over the next few weeks as I will (hopefully) be updating as we travel across the country!

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